Sun, May 6, 2018 at 9:33 AM, J Vern Cromartie
which includes my article titled "Black Social Movements Past and Present:
A Comparative Analysis of the Black Arts Movement and the Hip Hop Movement."
I presented the paper at the 2014 Black Arts Conference at UC Merced.
I look forward to your response.
you only mentioned BPP language as per Cleaver. BPP language, BLk Studies language and
BAM language are not the same. BAM didn't deal with the church as did the BPP. And we
definitely didn't submit to academic censorship, which is partly why I dropped out of SFSU
after the Drama Department did Flowers but wanted to tone it down! That was the motivation
to start Black Arts West Theatre.
Oakland's Afro American Association. See Ed Howard. Karenga was LA rep of AAA.
Will check out your section on Hip Hop and get back to you. You put a lot of research in
your paper so I applaud you.
Harlem, 1968-69, along with the East Coast BAM family or did not spend time in Chicago
with BAM Chicago, 1968. One of my duties as Associate editor of the New Lafayette
Theatre's Black Theatre Magazine was distribution to all the black colleges Also, as per
the West coast, you did not mention my Black Educational Theatre, 1972, Fillmore, and
my work with Sun Ra at BET, especially the Harding Theatre five hour, no intermission,
production of Take Care of Business.
As many times as you have spoken to my classes, uncensored, please know I have
no desire to limit your work to any region or area of study with regards to the
Black Arts Movement. I consider you an international scholar of the Black Arts Movement.
Vern put a great deal of work into a wonderful essay on the Movement. We are all telling
our stories, giving our research on a Movement that will one day be written about in history
books because of people insisting that our stories, our history and the beauty of our Blackness
be told. The Black Arts Movement similar to our very Blackness is without limits.
To: Kim McMillon
Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2018 7:29 AM
moving forward. Love you and appreciate you.
ways to heal ourselves and our history. We compete in academia with people of all races that seek
to judge us and our history. Often teaching our history in ways that are painful. So much of what
we do is censor ourselves because of our fears. For many, one wrong move or indiscretion,
particularly before you receive tenure, and you are fired. I have only worked as an adjunct, but
I see the ill-treatment of academics of color. Each person has to decide what is right and best for them. I cannot judge. Often, as a race we censor ourselves. Perhaps your voice is so important because you have chosen not to censor your words.
by quite a few miles.
become known as hip-hop culture.
outside influences. That is entirely incorrect.
mid-60s and continued throughout the 70s and 80s, were highly informed by BAM and associated
was established in Chicago, a center for BAM, and was directly influenced by BAM ideology.
Panthers, Sun Ra, and Sly Stone.
ever mentioning the Black Panthers opened up an Information Center in Bronx River in 1968 which
was visited by a young Bambaataa, before he even took that name. Bambaataa's given name in the
article is also incorrectly listed.
which was foundational to the development of the hip-hop emcee. The Last Poets were directly
influenced by BAM. Yet this is not mentioned.
academic perspective from the outside looking in, which has little understanding or knowledge of
how hip-hop actually developed.
paraphrasing what others have written.
in that it exists for the purpose of propping up academia, rather than understanding that hip-hop
was in part created because of the inherent limitations of universities and the inability to these
institutions to relate to street-level social and cultural movements. Hip-hop in the late 80s and early
90s, for example, existed as an alternative source of information to the university system and the
failure of public education to overcome cultural bias--as referenced by KRS-One in "Yoiu Must Learn." Public Enemy in "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," and Poor Righteous Teachers on "Self-Styled Wisdom." And then later by dead prez on "They Schools."
never promoted consciousness, which is categorically untrue. In fact, in 1988-92, conscious rap far
outsold gangsta rap. Recently, Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer Prize, becoming the first pop music
artist to do so. Yet this continuum is completely unexamined.
the generational legacy of both BAM and the Black Panther Party. This is simply unconscionable.
Tupac began his artistic career as a theater student and poet before becoming a rapper, and his family
were members of the New York BPP chapter.
hip-hop exhibit which I was a co-curator of, I didn't just look at what academics unconnected to the
culture had to say about it. I didn't begin the historical timeline I created in 1973, but in 1965. One
big reason for that was that year was the year BAM was founded.
more unconnected points.
window-gazing to clearly and definitively unpack this.
attempting to define a disservice by getting so many things wrong and presenting while presenting
themselves as authoritative. This problem has been evident since the 90s, when the first academic
papers and books on hip-hop were published. While there are some scholars who write credibly
about the culture and come from hip-hop backgrounds, Cromartie is clearly not one of them.
get it right. Disinformation = miseducation.
read the footnotes as well as the main text. Many of the statements you made are simply not true.
My basic position is that Hip Hop is not a culture. It is a social movement. Perhaps, you simply
do not know what is a social movement. If you think that Hip Hop is a culture, perhaps you do not
know what is a culture. My Gullah culture is a culture. Mona Lisa Saloy's Creole culture is a culture.
Each culture can be broken down into ideas (e.g., values), norms, and material culture. Gullah culture
and Creole culture can meet that challenge, but not Hip Hop. Further, Kendrick Lamar's getting a
Pulitzer Prize is like Halle Berry getting an Oscar for the film Monster's Ball. By the way, the Black
Arts Movement actually started before 1965. As I said on pages 89-90, "The Black Arts Movement
emerged in 1964 with beachfronts in two locations: the New York area and the San Francisco-Oakland
Bay Area." The first issue of Soulbook was issued in 1964 rather 1965. That is a fact, not an opinion
my brother. Of course, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
it lacks any credibility of proof.
been extremely well-documented, from the artistic elements (mentioned in the essay), tot he stylistic
elements, to its aesthetics. If this assertion were true,it would have been impossible for me to create a
historical timeline of the culture fopr a museum exhibit, or document the culture as i have done
professionally as a published journalist since 1992, because the culture would be non-existent. So, on
this basic point, you fail mightily. Furthermore, hip-hop is not only a black and brown-originated
American culture on a par with blues, jazz, and rock n roll, but it is a global culture which has taken
root in every continent of the world, with the exception of Antartica. this, too, is well-documented,
to the point that it is ridiculous to even attempt to debate otherwise.
are not oppositional. In fact, they often go hand in hand and can be indistinguishable. Would anyone
in their right mind refer to the Harlem Renaissance or the Ragtime era as social movements without
also referencing their cultural aspects? Would anyone claim that the lifestyle and aesthetics centered
around jazz were strictly social phenomena and unconnected to culture? The weight of the ignorance
you project here onto hip-hop is simply hard to fathom.
intersected with, been informed by, and influenced numerous social and political movements during
that span. Hip-hop is inherently sociocultural if not inherently sociopolitical, and has been that way
since before the culture even had a name. this is an aspect of a concept derived from BAM, that
cultural expression reflect the social sentiments of the time. If we go back to the earliest foundations
of hip-hop--black dance forms, funk music, graffiti--they are all cultural and social phenomena.
It is essentially impossible to argue that hip-hop DJing is not cultural, since it literally created its own
cultural practices, i.e., breakbeats, park jams, turntablism. Those are just a few examples, but there
are more. The cultural practice of emceeing or rapping is derived from the African American oral
tradition, which in no way was a purely social phenomenon. The intentional adoption of Afrocentric
imagery in the late 80s was a cultural practice. I could go on and on here. You are simply wrong from
a factual standpoint, regardless of your opinion.
culture, perhaps you do not know what is a culture.>
my thesis on it in college, in 1991. I am well-regarded as a pioneer of hip-hop journalism, as well as
a cultural historian. I have published numerous articles over the years examining both culture and
social movements, and interviewed many primary sources. I'm not going to run down my entire CV
here but you have no idea who i am or how deeply-ingrained i am in hip-hop culture, or what my
understanding is of social movements. Perhaps you shouldnt write about things you know nothing
traditional at this point. It has regional, national, and even international aspects., and has influenced
mainstream popular culture in every place it has spread to. Perhaps you felt the need to lecture me,
as if i was an ignorant child. Unfortunately for you, that is not the case.
ego-driven statement with no basis in reality. It's really quite delusional. I've lived through every era
of hip-hop, so i can personally attest to its values, norms, and material aspects. I personally know
practitioners of every single element of hip-hop who uphold this criteria you define, which evidently
you are completely unaware of. I think perhaps the broad appeal of hip-hop and its impact on
mainstream popular culture are beyond your comprehension as well. Which is why you reject
evidence and proof to the contrary of your point which is well-documented.
film Monster's Ball. >
shows a scorn and disdain for the artform of which K.Dot is an unquestioned master of, and speaks
to an implicit cultural bias which, by all rights, should disqualify you from even attempting to write
about hip-hop as a movement, culture, economic development strategy, ideological platform, or
form of popular entertainment. Your unmitigated gall here is largely reminiscent of the dismissing
of hip hop by white politicians in the late 80s and early 90s and shows a profound lack of
understanding of what hip-hop actually is. Ironically, I was just asked, as a hip-hop cultural expert,
to speak on the significance of Lamar's achievement by a major newspaper.
which was produced by Marvin, a BAM co-founder, in 2015. Feel free to do the math yourself.
You are correct in naming the Soul Students Advisory Committee in 1964, but they didn't call
themselves part of the BAM, because that movement had not yet been named. We can also point to
things Ishmael Reed and others were doing as early as 1962 as things which led up to BAM but are
generally not considered an official part of its history, just as we can look at how Oakland boogaloo
evolved into hip-hop dance beginning in 1965-66, although hip-hop itself wasnt named until 1977
and didnt appear in print until 1981. We can note that the dance form known as b-boying evolved
out of NYC street gangs, and that the uprock preceded Kool Herc's first DJ party by at least a year.
Or we can look at the Revolutionary Action Movement, which had an Oakland chapter, preceded the
formation of the Black Panther Party, and had a similar ideology. we can also point to the Deacons of
Self Defense in Louisiana as a forebear to the Panthers. We can note that Seale and Newton both
organized out of the Anti Poverty Office in North Oakland in 1965. But we can't say the Panthers
started, as the Panthers, before October, 1966.
leading up to them. Hip hop culture is no different in this regard. In fact, the culture existed for as
much as fifteen years before it was even named as such.
hesitate to do original research.
refuted by any number of sources over a five-decade span.
Yes, you mentioned me at Marcus Garvey Park when Cleaver spoke, and my comments were reactionary because I drank the Muslim Kool Aid. Again, check my name at the time, Marvin X. I was trying to be holier than thou, e.g., I rewrote Flowers as Take Care of Business, minus the profanity. Harlem treated me like a holy man except they couldn't deal with me as a member of the NOI in the land of Malcolm X, Harlem. In hindsight, I would do what Cleaver said about Fanny Lou Hamer.
Reply by J. Vern: